Useful Island & Neko Harbor

Dec 24, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

The National Geographic Explorer arrived at Useful Island, so named because whalers could easily climb to the top and get a 360-degree view of the surrounding waters to look for whales. Many guests followed their route and headed for the top of the island towards the navigational aid. Other guests boarded Zodiacs for a cruise around the island in search of whales to photograph.

It wasn’t long before several naturalists spotted a large gathering of gentoo penguins floating on the water’s surface. Suddenly a humpback whale surfaced adjacent to the Zodiacs and guests were treated to some superb views of these fantastic creatures. It was obvious both the whale and the penguins were taking advantage of the rich supply of krill in that particular spot.

With the morning’s activities wrapped up we headed for our next destination of Neko Harbor. However, on the way were alerted by the bridge to a pod of Gerlach or “Little B” killer whales. With fine weather and gentle seas most guests were outside and able to get great views, not to mention photos, as several individuals came alongside the ship.

The afternoon was spent exploring Neko Harbor which takes its name from a whaling ship operated throughout this region. The sun was out, the water was like a pond, and the surrounding scenery was dramatic. As some guests got up close with gentoo penguins on land, others cruised in Zodiacs watching several humpback whales feeding among the broken ice and icebergs. It was a magical afternoon enjoyed by all.

Christmas celebrations commenced on board that evening followed by a breathtaking journey through the spectacular Lemaire Passage. It was truly a red-letter day in Antarctica—one where dreams for many guest and staff came true.

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About the Author

Martin Cohen


Martin grew up in Melbourne playing cricket and Australian Rules football. While growing up, and to his parents’ dismay, Martin brought home and kept a menagerie of wildlife including frogs, lizards, turtles, and even poisonous snakes!

About the Videographer

Ross Weinberg

Video Chronicler

Born in Hollywood with a camera in his hand, Ross is a documentary filmmaker and photographer who is inspired by a good-organic-wholesome-LA-vegan cause and strives to raise awareness wherever he can through his pictures and films. While majoring in Film and Economics at the Boston University College of Communication, he learned the art of documentary filmmaking as an editor and cameraman for the Harvard-Smithsonian Science Media Group. 

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